Book Review: A Theology Of Women -- By: Aída Besançon Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 17:3 (Summer 2003)
Article: Book Review: A Theology Of Women
Author: Aída Besançon Spencer

Book Review: A Theology Of Women

Aída Besançon Spencer

Reviewed by Aída Besançon Spencer, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and pastor of organization with Pilgrim Church. She has written Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry (Thomas Nelson, 1985) and co-authored The Goddess Revival (Baker, 1995), as well as other books and articles. Recently, she co-edited The Latino Heritage Bible (World, 2002).

Men and Women in the Church: Building Consensus on Christian Leadership, by Sarah Sumner, IVP (2003)

Sarah Sumner writes an apologetic that is especially helpful to dissatisfied complementarians who do not want to see themselves as “feminists.” She wants the Christian community to function as the family of God, where women are mothers in the church and men are fathers in the church, both fulfilling their design to usher in God’s reign.

Sumner is associate professor of ministry and theology at Azusa Pacific University. Although brought up in a conservative family, she found herself attracted to a public speaking ministry. Eight to ten years ago she began to see inconsistencies in the complementarian limits on women in ministry. Sumner’s goal is to create “a theology of women woven into the narrative” of her story (p. 32).

Part one of the text begins with Sumner’s own history (chs. 1-2). She then explains the impasse between complementarians and egalitarians (chs. 3-4), the nature of women and men and of God (1 Cor. 11:7, chs. 5-9), how to interpret the Bible (ch. 10), woman as “weaker” vessel (1 Peter 3:7, ch. 11), husband as “head” (1 Cor. 11:3, ch. 12; Eph. 5:1-21, ch. 13), God as “head” of Christ (chs. 14-15), headship versus entitlement (ch. 16) and 1 Timothy 2 (chs. 17-20). In part two of the book, Sumner responds to the dilemma raised in chapters 1-4, offering help in building consensus in Christian leadership between complementarians and egalitarians (chs. 21-23), highlighting sexual sin as a major cause of division between men and women (ch. 24), and closing with her ongoing personal narrative and vision for the church (ch. 25).

Men and Women in the Church is replete with insights over the meaning of Scripture. Sumner presents four views: the traditional, complementarian, egalitarian, and her own, which she hopes may break the current impasse. But in reality, it appears to be an egalitarian view, isolated from the egalitarian community.

What helpful insights does Sumner present?

  1. In contrast with Leon Podles, Sumn...
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